Monday, October 18, 2010
Show Review: Marco Benevento Trio - Live at the El Mocambo, Sunday October 17, 2010
The logic behind playing a concert on a Sunday night is difficult to understand. People are worn out from Friday and Saturday and most just want to laze around and watch their Sunday night favourites on television. Last night’s Marco Benevento Trio show at the El Mocambo was real evidence of this theory. Wrapping up his mini-tour of Canada that included stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton and finally Toronto, Marco and the gang were welcomed to our fair city by seldom few concertgoers. Fortunately for those thirty people in attendance, Marco is a professional. Where most groups would have played a short and uninspired set to an audience that small, Marco did the opposite. Supported by Dave Dreiwitz on bass (Ween) and Andy Borger on drums (Tom Waits, Norah Jones, and Ani DiFranco), Marco proceeded to put on a first-class, intimate performance.
Triggering a pre-recorded sample from one of the many toys on his completely tricked-out saloon-style acoustic piano, Marco splashed some bright piano work into the crackling sounds of “Record Book” from his first release Invisible Baby. He slowly winded through the introduction before blasting out the chords, all the while Dreiwitz was adding guitar-like fills through a distorted bass. David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine once stated that Marco plays his piano like a guitarist and this couldn’t be truer. His chord-work and sense of melody is simply impeccable, and he effortlessly handles both rhythm and lead roles.
Next up was a choice cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” from his latest release Between the Needles & Nightfall. Winehouse’s smooth and sultry vocals were mimicked by jazzy piano lines, while Borger threw in some very impressive drum fills. The few women in the audience took the opportunity to dance and sing to this familiar tune, and the band played to their energy. Marco took a minute to take the mic and introduced the first party song of the night, “The Real Morning Party”. Never one to hide his sense of humor, “The Real Morning Party” can only be described as elevator music played by a madman. Borger proceeded to destroy his toms while Marco laid down the infectious, and humorous melody. Smiles could be seen ear-to-ear on everyone in the crowd.
Showcasing his love for timeless artists, Marco laid down a spirited take of “Seems So Long Ago Nancy”, a heartbreaking tune by the legendary Leonard Cohen. The band ran through a few more songs before finally exiting the stage. Though it was Sunday and already past midnight, the fans still chanted for an encore. The Trio returned and of course, someone in the audience called for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”. The request was met with embarrassed laughter, but Marco rose from his chair stern-faced and began to play the familiar chord progression, breaking rock and roll’s number one faux pas. Looking shocked and a little bit appalled, Dreiwitz surprised everyone by joining in, playing the classic vocal lines on his bass. Soon enough Borger laid down the drums and we were in the midst of a full-fledged cover of “Freebird”. Finally coming to the realization that this was just wrong, Marco shifted gears, seamlessly segueing into the familiar and far more respectable sounds of “Fearless” by Pink Floyd. But the classic rock parade wasn’t over. The band proceeded to sandwich “Benny & The Jets” by Elton John into the middle of the song, before returning to the Floyd classic. And that was how the band left it. Finishing up their encore by half past midnight and looking just like the audience, tired and beat, the Trio waved their goodbyes and probably headed off to sleep.
Photo Credit: Greg Abramowitz